Review - Vaude Termatic RC II Winter Mountain Bike Boots
If you're a road cyclist, then yes you probably could; especially if you choose a high-quality set of overshoes, like those from GripGrab. However, for mountain bikers and commuters, where walking off the bike is a more frequent affair; then, overshoes fall down.
Walking around in overshoes is a bit like going for a hike in a fleecy pair of slippers. It's not comfortable, it's rather slippery, and both your feet and your footwear are not going to stay looking or feeling top-notch. While I always ride on the road in proper SPD SL road shoes, I've commuted in mountain bike shoes for as long as I can remember; they provide better grip off the bike, more protection on the bike, and have greater longevity. When the winter approaches though, you end up needing to try and keep the mud, wind, and rain off your feet; and to do that I've tried numerous combinations of overshoes, duct tape, plastic bags and cling film. None were very successful…
So, in a bid to save my lightweight, well vented (well un-waterproof) summer mountain bike shoes, I this year invested in a set of proper winter shoes: the Vaude Termatic RC II bike shoes. They are performing well.
The winter cycling boot conceptA winter mountain biking/commuting boot will typically be an ankle-height boot, with a waterproof membrane in the upper, and a durable rugged sole with recessed SPD cleat. It sounds like a simple concept, but it seems to be difficult for bicycle shoe brands to deliver on. I have come across numerous winter cycling boots that look and feel like hiking boots; whose adjustment dials and straps soon become so clogged with winter mud, that it is almost impossible to remove them with semi-frozen hands; whose manufacturers couldn't resist putting in that one "ventilation hole", which inevitably acts as a water inlet for that muddy puddle… chilly. It seems that winter boots are a hard concept to nail, for cycling shoe manufacturers that spend the rest of the year looking for the lightest weight, most well vented materials, to provide you with cool feet on those Alpine ascents.
Vaude aren't a dedicated cycling shoe manufacturer though. The German company has its roots in outdoor equipment, waterproof jackets, and durable camping equipment; all products that actually share many desirable attributes with the technologies required for winter cycling boots. With this in mind, I was hopeful that the Termatic RC II winter boots would be a refreshing, practical, and functional product.
Warm and dry feetThe Termatic RC II bike shoes use a Sympatex waterproof membrane, housed under a hydrophobic mesh outer, and lined with a Polartec fleecy inner. The lacing area - the typical weak-point of any waterproof boot, is double covered with a neoprene tongue, strapping over the drawstring lacing. A second neoprene tongue then does up around the ankle of the boot, to provide added spray and water protection. The result is a warm and insulated capsule for your feet: it keeps the water out, and the warm dry air in.
The design of the Vaude Termatic RC II winter boots works. If you've ever tried adapting your summer shoes to winter use, by duct-taping up the vents or wearing the best winter overshoes; then you'll know that there are always weaknesses in the design: the most typical one in mountain biking, is that you tread in a large muddy puddle, and the puddle seeps up between overshoe and shoe, and into your socks. The Vaude Termatic RC overcomes this completely, with its 100% waterproof design. Go splashing through icy puddles, to your heart's content!
Fit and feelSo the Vaude Termatic RC II protects your feet from the cold and the wet; but does it feel like a hiking boot as a result?
Thankfully, the answer is no. Despite all the waterproofing, insulation, and the heavy mountain biking tread, the Termatic RC II still feels refreshingly supple and light, and not too cumbersome. The draw cord closing on the lacing means that there are no pressure points or strap marks; the Velcro strapping provides a reassuringly supportive hold on your foot's arch and around the ankle; even the toe-box is a good size - providing enough room for toe wiggle, even with winter socks on.
The Vaude Termatic RC II looks and feels more like a mountain bike race shoe, than a hiking boot; which is a great thing, given some of the winter bike boots that I've seen on the market.
OverallOverall, I'm pleased to say that Vaude have delivered a mountain biking winter boot, which feels like a durable, warm and comfortable summer mountain biking shoe. They've employed their knowledge of good waterproof membranes, water repellent fabrics, and high quality insulation, to provide a lightweight, winter-proof shoe, which provides significantly more protection than a summer-weight option.
Stash your shiny white summer shoes on the shelf this winter, and get some proper comfort with a set of decent winter cycling boots. Your feet (and your summer shoes) will thank you for it!
View the Vaude Termatic RC II Mountain Bike Shoes at Vaude.com (Link)
|The Vaude Termatic RC II winter cycling boots don't look or feel cumbersome to wear|
|The choice of Sympatex waterproof membrane, water repellent mesh outer, and Polartec insulation provides a great mix|
|Warm, comfortable and performance orientated - the Vaude Termatic RC II has proven to be a great shoe|
|An impressive execution of the winter cycling boot concept by Vaude|